Sous Chef Jason Bassett
It says a lot about you when a local magazine makes a Facebook post and your name gets tagged quite a few times. That’s how I came to know Jason Bassett, sous chef at Charleville Tavern. Not having sampled his food myself, I could tell he had made quite a name for himself being repeatedly recommended on my search inquiry. As a person, always wanting to shed light on those that people may have never heard of, I reached out. I even managed to snag a new food spot amid it. As I pulled up to the new restaurant in Chouteau area, I instantly fell in love with the airy, yet rustic feel of the building. After taking a tour, with Bassett, I was sure I’d be returning.
As of late, all the chefs I have interviewed have been cooking since their childhood. To you, what’s it like being a chef?
Being a chef has a lot of stuff that goes along with it. It sounds good, but its hard work. With this restaurant, I’ve been working with them to get it open since the beginning. I’ve helped do a lot of things, but overall, it’s fun and I like meeting new people and seeing their reactions to something I have prepared. I got into this after having a lot of jobs that were going nowhere. I had always wanted to cook and ended up landing a job from a guy who was nice enough to give me a chance. It wasn’t paying much, but I wanted to do it and have been doing it ever since.
Have you always loved to cook?
I’ve always enjoyed cooking. Even before getting into the culinary field, I would cook at home. I was always the one cooking all the food when people came over and ended up being the person slated to cook.
What’s one of your defining, or incredible moments since you’ve been cooking?
Most of my jobs prior to this place have been fine dining. I used to work at Scape in the CWE and there would be these Iron Chef competitions held. I participated and won couple of them, but the one I felt was dope was when I went against a pastry chef for a dessert I made and won.
What are your goals with your cooking?
There are a lot of things I really want to do. Like I want to get to the point where I’m out on my own. The people I work for own are independent people who grew one businesses into a lot of different locations. I may not have that many locations, but I want to have something that specifically my own. I’m working on getting my name out there so I can grow more.
When you go about preparing and presenting your food, what methods or steps do you take before sharing it with people?
Truth be told, I try and think about stuff that I like to eat. I don’t necessarily follow trends, but I do watch what people who I consider my peers do. With different lifestyle trends like people eating healthier, saving money, or preparing meals for the week; I try pay attention and keep those things in mind when I create recipes and do my private event.
When doing private events, referrals are a big part of your business. How you keep the referrals coming in?
I just give it my all. People are starting to realize that this is what I’m passionate about. I didn’t go to school for this, but this is what I do and I love what I do. When I make something for people, I really give it everything I have. I believe in giving people the best quality I have, to make sure they will refer people to me.
With all the restaurants you’ve worked at, what’s been your favorite place thus far?
I learned a lot at Scape. At Scape, I learned how to make crepes and use the crepe spinner and the whole nine. I eventually moved up to where I was running breakfast out of a different kitchen so that was cool. With all the restaurants I’ve worked at, I knew that even if this wasn’t the place I would end up at, I love what I do and I wanted to keep doing it.
What ingredients other than food would you say makes a great dish?
I would say ambiance. It really depends on when you’re eating, where you’re eating and who you’re eating with. I would also say understanding. Like if you understand what you’re eating, or more so the idea behind it, whether you like it or not, you will appreciate it more.
People put a lot of value on education and degrees. As a self-taught chef, how do you navigate through the mindset of those who may have gone to school for this career?
You know all of that is fine and swell, but at the end of the day it boils down to a busy night and you need to work side by side. The biggest factor is production. Things like, how fast are you working? Are you working clean or neat? Are you aware of what’s going around you? Stuff like that is what really counts because in the kitchen on a packed night, are you a hard worker.
Jason now, versus Jason then. How would you advise yourself on this career?
Whoa that’s a good question. If there was anything I would say take the leap. When it comes to this field you really need to just get out there and start working. I would probably tell myself to go to culinary school, learn what I need to learn, and get it over with since I was just wasting time doing nothing anyway.